In the United States, there are several groups with conservative views that may be considered to have a visible influence in their field (such as the Federalist Society for law, or the National Rifle Association for firearms).

Take the Federalist Society for example. The Washington Post Magazine wrote a while ago that "twenty-five of the 30 appeals court judges [US President Trump] has appointed are or were members of the society" and the organization has been described as having an "unprecedented peak of power and influence". Out of 9 judges in the US Supreme Court, two-thirds (6) of them are current or former members of the society. It may be said that the Society has had a significant and visible political impact in light of this.

Contrast this with a similar progressive or liberal group, such as the Brennan Center for Justice. By way of comparison, its operating budget is similar to the Federalist Society and its views different, yet it does not have any visibly significant political impact. It does not draw up a list of candidates to send to a president, and it does not lobby for candidates it approves of in ways similar to the Federalist Society.

Comparisons may be also drawn between groups such as the National Rifle Association and groups with a more progressive view on firearms issues (such as Moms Demand Action or Everytown for Gun Safety).

The two groups above are just some examples of conservative groups arguably having a visible political impact. There are other fields such as policy, with analogous groups such as the Heritage Foundation also playing roles that are broadly similar.

Question: Why is it the case that groups with politically conservative views appear to have a more visible impact on the political stage, compared to liberal/progressive groups of a similar or comparable stature?

  • Democrats tend to use recommendations of the American Bar Association. Brennan is more comparable to the Heritage Foundation.
    – Rick Smith
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 19:20
  • 12
    Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Open Society Foundation, Pro Choice... There are plenty of groups (some more centrally organised, some less) that are not conservative, but have a big impact.
    – James K
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 19:22
  • 2
    @JamesK I would reccomend posting that as a frame challenge :) Commented May 29, 2021 at 19:45
  • Not sure about the dupe, but I'm also not sure about the question. It doesn't focus particularly on the NRA, and most of the answers there would not answer this question as they focus on gun control groups. I'm not sure about the question because of my frame challenge comment. To the OP, would you consider a frame challenge answer?
    – James K
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 20:28
  • On economic issues, liberal lobbies have done just fine - both US political parties are on board. Tax cuts at the top, bailouts for mega finance, deregulation, union busting, free trade, slow-walking any minimum wage increases, wink and nod to totalitarian employers like Amazon, maintaining the world's most inexplicably inefficient (but lucrative) health system...
    – Pete W
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


Such examples are subject to "cherry-picking". It is certainly the case that there is a very effective and powerful gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby is far less well organised. The reasons for this are discussed at Why is there no effective anti-gun lobby in the United States?

However I don't think it is a general trend. There are effective and powerful special interest groups from the broadly liberal wing of politics who have had a significant effect on policy over many years: The NAACP and more recently Black lives matter for example. There aren't really any Conservative groups that have comparable influence. The Pro-choice movement is not a centralised group, but has had considerable influence.

Looking just in terms of money, George Soros's Open Society Foundation is organised, very well funded, and has a big impact on a wide range of policies.

Labour Unions should also be noted. The NEA has considerable influence and power (Jill Biden is a member) in federal, state and local school boards. Again, conservative counterparts are much less significant.

It is unsurprising that a Conservative group will be more successful at promoting their policies while a Conservative president is in office. And it isn't necessarily fair to compare groups that may have different mandates and different goals.

So this is a frame challenge: Yes, there are some powerful and effective Conservative groups, but there are also powerful and effective liberal groups. And it isn't the case that in general, conservative groups have a more visible political impact.

  • 1
    It seems like academia, gov, media, entertainment all lean progressive even though they're not labeled progressive like BLM, NAACP, or Open Society? This would cause conservative orgs to stick out in comparison. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong. Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 21:49

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